Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I truly had not planned to buy more than bag this trip, but fell in love with this color: a lovely smoky grey with just a hint of lilac. The leather is like buttah. Plus the energetic and amiable saleswoman at the Printemps Gerard Darel bag counter reminded us that we could get the 10% tourist discount coupon if we presented our passports at the Concierge desk.On our way to the Musée Picasso (which unfortunately turned out to be closed for renovations), we passed a shoe store on the Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, which had a "20% off today!" sign in the window, and I spotted these....
...Shooties!! in the window. I'd been wanting a pair of these since last fall, but every pair in LA seemed to have stratospheric heels. These are just the right height, and so comfortable. Shopping serendipity....priceless!
Monday, October 27, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
When it comes to style, Paris can be as diverse as any American city. Just as you'll see very different looks on women in the Upper East Side vs. Soho, or in Beverly Hills vs. Santa Monica, you'd be hard pressed to find a single overriding Parisienne style. Gala Darling points out some common themes, but when Chicamericaine commented on an earlier post that the woman's hair looked very "16th arr.," I immediately knew what she was talking about.
As we happened to visit during an unusually warm few days, what we mostly observed people wearing was probably more of a summer-to-fall transitional layered look, less vraiment autumnal than might have been seen had temperatures been cooler. Some popular looks spotted on women:
- Narrow jeans or trousers tucked into knee-high boots (both low and stacked heels)
- Patterned or brightly colored tights on women of all ages. (Including one 60-ish woman at Ladurée doing a very Pat Field kind of look with black skirt and jacket, flaming long red hair, lipstick-red belt and tights, black patent ankle boots and bag.)
- Subtle makeup - no raccoon eyes or goopy gloss (some exceptions to this, but a more natural look predominates)
- Bubble hem, patterned and other distinctive coats
- Lots of patent leather shoes and bags
- Shoulder bags with outside pockets (very practical!)
- Scarves, scarves, scarves. Mostly lighter weight due to the weather, but still ubiquitous, and tied easily and casually
- Heels, but not teetering stilts. Most heels I spotted were either chunky, or 2-3" walkable heights. Low-heeled loafers were quite common with trousers.
In the shops, we spotted lots of greys, purples, currants, cranberries and all variants thereof. But I think there must be a city ordinance that every shop must feature one of these in their window:
The Rabbit Fur Vest seems to be poised to be the must-have item for Fall/Winter.
One big difference that I noticed between some of the more well-to-do older women in Paris and their counterparts in the US was that you don't see the same level of obvious cosmetic surgeries among les Parisiennes. I didn't see any "trout pout" or taut, stretched faces, or cheekbone implants. Rather, I saw women who are well-groomed and who seem to be unashamed to look their age (including some wrinkles), dressed well and often in current styles, yet without appearing to want to look like their teenage daughters. Of course there were also many of the skirt-suited, chunky-heeled, more classically turned out femmes as well, representing that style impeccably. Another difference was hair. I got to the point that I could spot American women by their "done" hair. Les Françaises don't seem to go in for a lot of styling or products, hair is more natural, and relies on a good cut or a loose pony tail or chignon if longer. Messy hair isn't a negative; many women looked as if they hadn't bothered to comb or brush since waking up. (That bit of French style might be harder to translate to some parts of the US; I can see it being regarded as "unkempt looking" for women working in corporate environments.)
Ultimately, what I've taken away from observing les femmes Parisiennes is:
- Wear what you like, and wear it with confidence.
- Don't be afraid to look your age.
- Perfection isn't natural; embrace your individuality.
- Have fun!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Dinner at Nobu was a real treat. Wendy got carded (for real!) by the other-worldly waitress, much sake was consumed, and les plats poissons were amazing.
Getting to meet other bloggers and blog readers has been one of the best parts of this trip!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I have much more to post about Paris: the museums, the food, the style, and my general impressions, but things have moved so fast that I neeed to organize my thoughts and present them in some coherent manner. Plus it's very frustrating to not be able to make the proper French characters, thanks to a limited laptop keyboard.
We left Paris very early yesterday morning; the sun wasn't yet up and the city was just beginning to stir. (Traffic on the highway going into town however, even at that early hour was as bad as the 405, glad we were going the other direction!) Flight was long, but mostly smooth, and I watched a few movies. (Another aside, if you haven't yet seen Young At Heart, you must add to your Netflix queue now!)
We arrived in Manhattan into the snarl of Friday afternoon mid-town traffic. It took almost as long to get from the tunnel to our hotel as the previous leg from the airport to the tunnel. Bien sur, our room wasn't ready yet, so off for a stroll in Central Park (and to find a hot dog for mon mari) we went. I don't think we could have asked for nicer weather!
Back in the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Europe, there was a concept called the Great Chain of Being, which was the basis for the class system. One was not supposed to aspire to rise above one's God-given place in life, nor dress or live above one's station, or risk being hit with a Sumptuary Tax. Well, thanks to hubby's company's travel department, we are staying in a room that is well above our station (and normally would been quite above our budget). So this is how the other half lives...
After marvelling at our lodgings (everything is controlled from a panel on the bedside, even the night light, radio, temperature, humidity) we unpacked and headed off to meet Bonnie Ann for drinks at the Algonquin. Her friend MaryAnn soon joined us, and we had a wonderful time hearing about Bonnie Ann's latest trip to England and her days with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Olivier who writes Stuff Parisians Like blog was in town and possibly showing up later, but at any rate we were quite sorry that our dinner reservations were so early and that we had to leave their lovely and vivacious company so soon.
Dinner at Insieme was just the thing after lots of rich French food; I had a couple of appetizers from the contemporary side of the menu, but everything looked fabulous. By the time we'd finished dinner, we'd been up for about 21 hours, so in the city that never sleeps, we had collapsed into bed by 10 pm.
Today we're off to the Frick Collection and possibly the Whitney, and then tomorrow we'll hit
the MOMA to see the Van Gogh exhibit.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The weather has turned from Indian summer to a more climate typique pour Paris. Il pleut aujourd'hui. (Which I'm enjoying as well, am getting a little autumn fix!) Have lots to post about, including getting to meet the lovely and gracious Chicamericaine, but it's the morning of our last full day in Paris, so we're going to be up and out the door soon. I'll leave you with some more pics.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Well, it's a good thing the markets rebounded yesterday, as we did a bit of shopping. We spent a few hours wandering around Le Bon Marché, especially Le Grand Epicerie. (While we were perusing the wine section, a Frenchman who was also browsing says to us, "these are ridiculously priced, you can get at Monoprix for half the price!")
Even though I saw the 2.55 of my dreams in the Chanel window, I left LBM with only another Gerard Darel bag (this one in a muted bronze metallic, which goes with everything and which was still pretty reasonably priced). "Oh, this is the last one," the sales woman said to me, "VERY popular, they sell very quick!" I tried on a very cute pair of ankle boots that had a kickin' attitude (by Clarks, whoda thunkit?) but the zippers didn't stay zipped, so no sale. Mon mari purchased a set of battery powered salt and pepper grinders, which were on sale.
Walking back to the hotel, we stopped into a boutique with some beautiful jackets and scarves in the window, and I walked out with a gorgeous silk-wool shawl, dark olive with gold threads running through, which I ended up wearing out to dinner last night. We dropped the bags off at the hotel, and went to Fragonard to pick up some gifts. The very helpful (and pretty) sales woman actually talked the hubby into trying some new fragrances, (he's been a Polo man for a couple of decades) so he had something new to wear last night as well.
Thanks for materfamilias for the recommendation for Le Nemrod. We had a lovely lunch there (nice salads!) and it's a fabulous spot for Parisian-watching. I've been taking mental style notes, which I'll recap at the end of the week.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
That's Montmartre/Sacre Coeur in the distance. And here's looking north on Rue Bac,directly below us (Duchesse, there's an Eric Bompard store right across the street):
The weather is gorgeous...mid 70's and clear skies. It's supposed to cool down in a couple of days and we may get some rain on Thursday. We dropped off our bags (except for mon mari's which inexplicably missed our connecting flight and should be delivered any time now) at the hotel when we arrived early this morning, and headed first to Jardins Luxembourg.
Look at that light! Isn't is amazing?
We then wandered the neighborhood, and eventually wound up at Ile St. Louis for a scoop of Berthillon. But check out this scene...SO Parisian.
My jet lag has been minimal this time. Don't know whether it was all the water I drank on the flight over, or the fact that I managed to sleep about an hour on the plane, but I've been going strong all day with only a twenty minute catnap a little while ago. Tomorrow we do some shopping and more wandering, and then Tuesday and Wednesday we hit the museums. Posting may be sporadic, but I'll do my best to update with highlights. Paris is as fabulous as ever!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Last time, I brought way too much of everything: clothing, shoes and accessories. I ended up mostly wearing the same six items throughout the week, and some of the bulky items I'd packed "just in case" were just so much deadwood. This time I've edited somewhat, chosen mostly clothes that will be impervious to wrinkles (eliminating the need to pack a travel steamer), stuck with fabrics that are relatively lightweight/not bulky, and chosen a mostly black and grey color scheme (adding scarves for color). The weather report for Paris for next week seems to change day to day, so layers will be key.
Without further ado, here's what I'm hoping will get me through 5 days in Paris and 4 days in New York:
- 2 silk tanks for layering (one black, one graphite)
- 1 white tee shirt for layering
- 1 grey 3/4 sleeve cotton tee
- 1 black silk long sleeve tee
- 1 black silk scoop neck tunic
- 1 black cashmere v-neck
- 1 shorter black lightweight wool cardigan
- 1 longer grey hooded wool cardigan
- 1 pair black wool Banana Republic trousers
- 1 pair charcoal jeans
- 1 pair black jeans
- 1 Chico's Traveller's Jacket, black
- 1 Chico's Traveller's knee-length skirt, black (don't laugh, these dress up easily, can be washed in the sink, and this jacket/skirt combo is one of the most flattering ensembles I own)
- 2 longer necklaces to dress up the Chico's
- Ecco mary janes
- Ferragamo plain black pumps
- 3 favorite Hermès scarves
- 1 oblong warmer scarf
- small vintage Chanel bag for dressy evening
- casual cross-body messenger bag
- packable long microfiber raincoat
Wearing/carrying for travel days:
- black jeans
- black tee shirt
- black silk v-neck sweater
- green pashmina
- black "1803" loafers
- black Miu Miu convertible bag (can be worn crossbody or carried for a dressier look)
- black leather walking coat
Monday, October 6, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Earlier this week, I delved into my differences with some of the published stylistas about what constitutes a wardrobe must-have. Though they may be a good starting point, other people's lists often don't take into account lifestyle or climate, and we ultimately have to develop our own. It took me a lot of trial and error to suss out my own list, especially when it comes to bags and shoes.
Though I'm a notorious bagaholic, if I had to narrow it down to my "can't-live-withouts," they would fall into three categories.
First is the workday bag/briefcase substitute. This bag should be able to hold everything you'd normally carry, plus a files and/or a laptop. Handles long enough to sling over the shoulder or a shoulder strap are critical for me. I'd recommend a neutral color without a lot of trendy hardware or frou-frou details, but it needn't be stodgy. Look for good quality of materials and construction; this bag will get a lot of hard wear. Here are some options from Cole Haan that would do nicely:
Aerin satchel in Dark Aubergine, $425,
Or Dark Anthracite. Both of these are great neutrals.
This Box Tote ($475) has a nice bit of equestrian detailing, and also holds a laptop.
Category two is the weekend bag. I currently have a good variety of bags that I'll rotate through, but if I had to pick one essential style, it would be a cross-body bag. When I'm out with the munchkin and/or dogs, having both hands free is a must. I also plan to take a cross-body bag on our upcoming Paris trip. When you're on your feet all day, it really makes a difference, and according to my physical therapist, is much, much better for your back and posture.
Category three is a smaller, dressier evening bag. When push comes to shove, it has to be one I can wear over a shoulder. When you have a drink in one hand and a potentially messy canapé in the other, there's nothing left with which to wrangle that clutch. Style mavens often insist any stylish bag wardrobe must include a Chanel 2.55, but I say Feh! They're rarer than hens teeth and cost a bloody fortune. There's a whole world out there of affordable evening bags, so find one that's the right style and size for you. My advice is to skip the ones with excessive beading or other detailing; those will be the first bits to show wear.